You may think that the Atlanta Falcons are definitely the team to beat when it comes to the 2018 NFC Playoffs. We’ve put together our own scenario and determined who we think will be the 2018 NFC Championship winner in a field that includes three teams from the NFC South, the New Orleans Saints, who won the division, and the two wild cards, the Carolina Panthers, and Atlanta Falcons. Plus, there are Philadelphia Eagles (First NFC East), Los Angeles Rams (First NFC West) and Minnesota Vikings (First NFC North). Here’s our 2018 NFC Championship prediction.
NFC Wild Card
In the 2018 NFC Playoffs, the wild card games are played on Jan. 6 at 8:15 p.m. with the Falcons at the Rams and on Jan 7 at 4:40 p.m. with the Panthers at the Saints.
Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Rams
The Rams aren’t just happy to be here, they are here to win and they’re at home. This season, unlike last, the Rams are better than the Falcons on both sides of the ball. The Atlanta defense is good, but not quite as efficient and tough as LA’s. Many note that Atlanta is not putting up the same number of points as they did last season, but that was an anomaly, and when push came to shove, the points didn’t help them a lot in the Super Bowl. We like the Rams in this one.
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
In case you missed it, the Saints finally have a defense. They have had a great offense for years, but their D has been in tatters. But that’s not the case anymore. New Orleans, like the Panthers, is allowing just 20.4 PPG. However, unlike Carolina, on the other side of the ball, the Saints have been good for 28.0 PPG, which is third-best in the NFC. In that category, Carolina comes in 19th, averaging 22.7 PPG. Drew Breese vs. Can Newton. We’re going with Brees any and every day. New Orleans wins this game.
NFC Divisional Round
In this round, we expect to see the New Orleans Saints at the Philadelphia Eagles on Jan 13 at 4:35 p.m. and the Los Angeles Rams at the Minnesota Vikings on Jan 13 at 4:40 p.m. What will be the result? Here’s how we see it coming down.
New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles
There are a few things that work in the Saints’ favor. The first is Drew Brees vs. Nick Foles. Brees wins that matchup. The second is the New Orleans pass rush, which has nailed QBs 42 times this season, which ties them for seventh. If they can pressure Foles, he’ll have to either try to thread the needle, which will be tough for him, throw the ball away, or take the sack. Philly will try to counter with their running game. The Eagle rush attack has been good, as it’s in the top four in the league. New Orleans is 16th versus the run. Still, we think that the Saints will win this one.
Los Angeles Rams at the Minnesota Vikings
The Rams can score, there’s no doubt about it. But the Vikings have the best defense in the NFL. It is interesting to note that on the stats end, Minnesota is mediocre at best except in one, points allowed. They are giving up 15.8 per game. The Rams are 19th at 20.6. Also in Minnesota’s favor are the low number of TDs allowed all season (13) and the small number of rushing yards allowed after first contact (1.38). When these two teams met in week 11 the Rams scored just seven points. They are normally scoring 29.9 PPG, which is best in the league.
2018 NFC Playoffs Championship Prediction
This game will feature the Minnesota Vikings hosting the New Orleans Saints. Does defense win out here? If it does, then both teams have a shot. That’s because the Saints have greatly improved their defense from the first two weeks of this season when it was ranked last in efficiency. Now it’s ranked eighth. These two teams met in week one, and Minnesota won it easily 29-19. If New Orleans can keep the game close, and they should with their re-envisioned defense, then Viking QB Case Keenum versus Saints QB Drew Brees in the fourth quarter should result in a New Orleans win. We expect a close game. That’s our 2018 NFC Championship prediction. We’ll have our playoff picks for the week on Friday and Saturday.